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How to Turn Your Business into a Successful Franchise | South Africa

Every big franchise had to start somewhere. In this article, we speak to some entrepreneurs who turned their businesses into successful franchises - and offer tips for how you can do the same.

When you think of franchises, the first thing that usually comes to mind is huge international corporations with hundreds of locations and thousands of employees. But all of these businesses had to start somewhere, and the franchise business model is an adaptable one that can suit all shapes and sizes.

If you've ever wondered how to franchise your business, read on - in this article, we speak to some entrepreneurs who used their business acumen and management skills to turn successful businesses into successful franchises. They tell us some of the strategies they used to build their brands and expand their scope, as well as some of the dangers you should be wary of if you’re thinking about going down the same path.

Find a franchisee you can trust

The most important thing you’ll need to franchise your business successfully is a first franchisee you can trust. If you built your business from the ground up, handing over the keys to your brand can be a difficult decision. You need to be sure the person who’s representing you is passionate about the role they’re stepping into, and the first branch of your new franchise can set the tone for many more to come.

Jeremy Hassell is the Managing Director of City Cave, an Australian wellness and relaxation franchise. He says that the first step if you want to franchise your business is to speak to your existing customers: “Have those conversations early and find the people who advocate for you, the people who are really passionate about what you do.

“Most of the time, a passion for your brand is more important than a person’s resume, or having management experience in a similar sector. If they’re passionate about it, they’ll make it work.”

If you don’t have any existing customers that you think could step into the role of franchisee, don’t stress. You can find dedicated franchisees by advertising your franchise on, and start having conversations about how to franchise your business.

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Start local, dream global

In an ideal world, your first franchisee and the branch they open should be close to your original location. Not so close that you’re competing with each other and encroaching on potential profits, but close enough for frequent check-ins while you’re figuring things out in the early stages.

Keep in regular contact and listen to both their struggles and achievements. The key to successfully franchise your business is offering support and training to your franchisors, but you won’t necessarily get it right the first time if you’re new to this, too. Be open with your franchisee about what they need and how you can support them.

“Our first franchisee for City Cave actually ended up becoming the trainer for all our future franchisees,” says Jeremy. “She was the blueprint for it. We’d never started a wellness centre before and we’d never started a franchise business before either, so we learned all of that together. The first ten or so franchisees were really the pioneers of our brand, and everyone after that benefitted from the lessons we’d learned.”

Ben Fletcher is CEO and Founder of Listen to Your Body, an Australian fitness studio that focuses on personalized training sessions. He echoes the sentiment about keeping close to your first franchisees: “Our original studio was in Gisburne, outside Melbourne. Our second was local, and the first five were all within 30km.

“Now that we have locations further out in Sydney and in Perth, we still make sure to visit every studio four times a year. And we offer the same support to them as we do to our neighbours. Having a consistent system is key.”

Be patient – growth takes time

The journey to becoming a successful franchise owner isn’t a quick one. Remember that you’re investing in the future of your business, and trying to set it up to run self-sufficiently even when you’re not there. You might not see the financial returns immediately, but making the right decisions in the early stages will set you up further down the line.

“You need to be able to say no sometimes,” adds Jeremy. “We had one opportunity near the beginning of our franchise journey where an investor was interested and offering quite a bit of money. But we ultimately decided that they didn’t align with the vision of the company. I think that really did protect us.”

Jeremy says that choosing franchisees that had a similar focus on building communities, rather than those just looking for a profitable investment, paid off in the long run: “When you get to 50-plus locations, you can have people come in that are just focused on the dollars. But at the beginning you want people that are going to be street fighters with you, who are willing to put in the work and lay the foundation.”

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Be adaptable, and learn from other franchisors

For both Jeremy and Ben, franchising wasn’t something they planned – it was a natural progression as their businesses grew. Ben says that Listen to Your Body started when he found the personal trainer services he was offering were always fully booked, and wanted to take on another staff member he could work alongside.

“That then grew over time to a team of 20 personal trainers, and eventually into our own studio,” says Ben. “It was five years after that when I started to learn about franchising, and we officially launched Listen to Your Body as a franchise.” The key was being adaptable and seizing the opportunities to grow when they came along, even if they came with new challenges.

For Jeremy and City Cave, franchising wasn’t part of their original plan, either. “We didn’t start this business to franchise,” he says. “We started it to help people, and then others saw the authenticity and the value of what we were doing.” While the team were still learning in the early stages, getting out to trade shows to learn from the experiences of other franchisors was incredibly valuable, too.

“In Australia we really have a loud and proud business community of franchisors who are happy to support each other. As much as you think all your problems are your own, franchisors all share the same problems. They can walk you through the journey at one location, ten locations, fifty locations.”

We’re here to help, every step of the way

The journey from business owner to franchisor is different for everyone, and most people start it without a blueprint for success. But surrounding yourself with people you trust, keeping your franchisees close and learning from the experiences of others who’ve walked the same path can help you navigate the complexities.

If you want more practical advice about franchising, take a look at our franchising guides which offer detailed walkthroughs to the franchise business model. If you’re ready to start finding new business partners who can take your business to the next level, you can advertise your franchise on


How can I franchise my business?

To franchise your business, you'll need to find a franchisee you can trust to manage your brand, create a legally binding franchise agreement, and develop a plan to provide them with training and support. If this process is financially successful, you can fine tune it as you bring on more franchisees and develop your business.

Where can I find franchisees for my business?

A good place to start if you're thinking about franchising your business is to speak to your existing customers. Look for people who are passionate about what you do and will advocate for you. You can also find franchisees for your franchise by advertising on portals such as

What are the most successful franchises in South Africa?

Some of the most successful franchise brands in South Africa include Chicken Licken, Pick n Pay, Build It, CleanMe and PostNet.

Stuart Wood

About the author

Stuart is Editorial Manager at He has worked as Editor for a B2B publisher, Content Manager for a PR firm, and most recently as a Copywriter for Barclays.